One village. One extended family, and a community of stunningly beautiful children.
They are reserved but sophistated in a way that shows they have been exposed to the world. Nasser Nawaalja, the spokesperson for the village has been networking to save his village of Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills. As we (EAPPI) provide protective presence, we watch delegations from around the world make their way to this small farming village. Susiya has come to represent the fate of many small traditional villages in Palestine as they are under threat of demolition by the Israeli government.
The children live with this reality every day. Tomorrow, or the next day, the Israeli bulldozers could demolish their homes, as they have done in the past. The UN believes, without International intervention, it will happen again.
The Israeli settlers, who live in an illegal settlement, are just 10 minutes away. They periodically kill sheep, damage olive trees, destroy bee hives, throw rocks at the residents and for all this are protected by the Israeli army.
Under this opressive situation the children go about their daily lives, much as any child does. We arrive just as school finishes for the summer. Remember. that joy of freedom? Up and out first thing in the morning, meeting up with friends, in and out of each others homes, and organizing our days without much intervention from adults.
Playing school, marbles, games like little sally saucer, statue, filling water balloons and well… watch out!.
We see them play, fight, kick the dogs, strangle the cat, bully/protect each other, tenderly take care of the little ones, push, pull, laugh, cry but seldom seek intervention from adults.
A tender moment for me is playing ‘Rock a Bye Baby’. All of them want a turn being rocked, even the older ones who have trouble fitting on my lap!
Then I teach them to jive to ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and they respond by teaching me a similar dance to an Arabic song!
Every child needs the security of a stable home and surroundings to grow into the adult they have the potential of becoming.
The children of Susiya and many other villages in Palestine need to be resilient. Until this conflict is ended, they will live their lives with the very real fear that disaster is just around the corner.